Sunday, 9 December 2018

Rubythroat; best bird ever

When on Fair Isle from mid October onwards each autumn you enter the territory of the bonkers rarities; those birds which raise the pulse to a new level when the WhatsApp group message goes off, or even if you are lucky to be the one to find the bird to start the island wide birder panic. Of these Siberian Rubythroat is one such bird and there can't be a birder in the country who does not dream of finding one. Whilst it has become a little more regular in its occurances in the UK in recent years, regular still be subjective, one still needs to be up on the northern isles to stand any realistic chance of connecting and with Fair Isle holding just about half of the British records it has to be the place to get one. I've been lucky in that I've seen two British Rubythroats, the male at Levenwick on Shetland and a female on Fair Isle but its still a bird I really want to see again and again. The male on Fair Isle this year was the second latest to have been found in the UK on the late date of 28th October, following the male found on Fair Isle in November 2017. 

As  I wasn't on the island at this time, I would have been home by several weeks I have found myself recalling the male in Holland in March 2016 that I and three others twitched. Some birders were dismissing this gem as an escape whilst others, like us, ignored this and went and saw it and it was worth the effort. Whilst the bird was often very confiding this is no different to those birds I've seen in China. 

So until I can see another male Rubythroat, and hopefully this time it will be on Fair Isle, I have revisited the video I took of the bird and loaded it here from Youtube. 

Due to file size constraints this isn't the full HD version but you definately get the idea.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Black-throated Diver - Gunners Park

When a Black-throated Diver appeared on the lake at Gunners Park a few days ago I was hoping it would linger till the wekend when I would have a chance to get down there. 

My morning visit resulted in the bird still being present but the weather was atrocious with very low cloud, rain and very little light so I really struggled with the camera settings with high ISO (minimum 1000) to get a shuter speed of at least 1/100th second. Awful. 

As a result most of the shots I took were blurred but a few were just salvagable and as can be seen it was, at times, an extremely showy bird. 

It seemed to be feeding quite well, though I didn't see it actually catch anything. It also struggled to get up the embankment as it apparently attmepted to make a cross land attempt to reach the sea. It got about 15-20metres or so before it retreated to the lake when a dog walker walked straight towards it with his two large hounds, dog walkers are an issue here. 

If the weather improves tomorrow I'll return and try again for improved images but for now here's my low light attempts.

This is by far and away the best views of a Black-throated Diver I have ever seen.

What are great bird

Pier Visit - 25/11/2018

A regular feature of a visit to Southend Pier are the Mediterranean Gulls which roost at the pier head with peak numbers always in winter when up to 40 can usually be found. Given the raised elevation of pier over the water some great photographic opportunities can be had, though ideally in brighter conditions that on today's visit. 

Adults and second-winters are great but I still think my favourite age group is first-winter.